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Some readers will be aware of the Anime Allnighter that runs as part of the Sci-Fi London film festival every May,  It's rare to see anime films in the cinema in the UK so the chance to see several in one all-night blitz has proven a major draw - so much so that the Allnighter has had to increase its capacity to cope with demand.  Its popularity meant that when Sci-Fi London decided to start running an additional weekend-long film festival in October, it was no surprise to see an Anime Allnighter on the schedule.

The Oktoberfest, as Sci-Fi London call their secondary festival, has been running since 2007, and has previously always seemed to clash with other commitments for us.  However, this year it ran on the Expo weekend, which gave us the perfect opportunity to check it out.

 As with the Anime Allnighter in May, the Oktoberfest Allnighter is held in the Apollo West End cinema a stones throw away from London's Piccadilly Circus.  The films kick off at midnight and run through till approximately 9am the following morning, with breaks in between films

where free tea, coffee, energy drinks and ice cream is available in the cinema's foyer.  A free goodie bag is given to all attendees, which this time featured posters, badges, orange chocolates and Heat Guy J and Doctor Who DVDs, whilst quizzes and giveaways are held between each film too.

The Anime Allnighter has always been a good place to get an indication of forthcoming UK releases, with the likes of Ghost in the Shell 2.0, Paprika and Places Promised in Our

Early Days all appearing at previous events.   However, for the first time in a while all of the films features were new and unreleased - one was even being screened before it opened in Japan!  The films this time were an intriguing mix of big names and original titles, with heavyweights like Evangelion 1.01 and Mamoru Oshii's latest film The Sky Crawlers joining original projects like King of Thorn and Time of Eve.

The Allnighter has often featured films that you'd be hard pressed to call sci-fi (Panda! Go Panda! and Naruto spring to mind), but this time the films shown were all pretty hard-core sci-fi packed with interesting ideas.  The night started with the highly anticipated The Sky Crawlers, a film that managed to splice fast-paced aerial dogfights with a story that moved at about the same speed as your average glacier.  It was good scheduling to put this first as a later showing may have sent some of the audience to sleep, and it was also good scheduling to follow it with the entertaining Time of Eve to perk everyone back up again!  Time of Eve was followed by the UK premiere of King of Thorn, a film we were disappointed to find featured no Blackthorn cider-swigging monarchs.  However, its post-apocalyptic tone set the scene nicely for the epic Eureka 7, a new feature-length interpretation of the series of the same name.  The night rounded off with Evangelion 1.01 You Are (Not) Alone, the first part of the cinematic re-imagining of the classic Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series.  The film was the main draw on the night's bill and was a good way to wrap up the evening in style, even if some viewers had to leave before the end.  For a more in-depth look at the films shown, please refer to the next page.
 

The Oktoberfest Anime Allnighter may have had a less eclectic schedule than the May event, but it made up for it with a real sci-fi focus. The films all had thought provoking science fiction ideas at their core, whether the exploration of artificial intelligence in Time of Eve or the ethics of harnessing living alien technology in Eureka 7.  Although this made for a mentally stimulating selection of films it must be said that the bill wasn't as entertaining as some previous ones.  They made you think rather than going for style over

substance, something that is rare to see in modern films of any kind. However, despite this there was still plenty of action on show and the animation of all of the films was excellent.  It was refreshing to see a selection of anime films that focused strongly on story and character development, even if the plot sometimes went off on some very odd tangents. 

The Oktoberfest Anime Allnighter benefited from being more focused and more thought provoking in its film selection than last May's Allnighter.  It may have not been as entertaining as some that have gone before, but the added bonus is that the majority of titles shown are unlikely to get a UK cinema run, and those that do will be extremely limited.  Holding the event on the Expo weekend did have its drawbacks though, the long day must have been too much for some and it was noticeable that several seats remained empty despite the event being a sell-out.  There were also a few more people dropping off to sleep during the films than normal too, something that wasn't helped by the slow-moving bill and the clocks going back! However, the Anime Allnighter was once again well worth the 30 entry fee, we really can't get enough of the event and we only wish similar events were held outside of London.


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